Directed by: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Written by: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Starring: Hiroshi Abe, Kirin Kiki, Yōko Maki
Just because humans can physically have a child, it doesn’t mean everyone can handle the responsibility of caring for others. It’s an adjustment all parents must encounter when bringing a child into this world and once again Hirokazu Kore-eda creates a wonderful portrait of that responsibility and the impact it has on everything surrounding our irresponsible protagonist.
After receiving fame for writing one book, Ryota Shinoda (Hiroshi Abe) has tried to reach that success again in his career. He finds himself wanting to create something of note and believes writing for a manga series for cash sinks below his level. Ryota still needs to make ends meet and he tries doing that by being a private detective. He has an ex-wife and a child that he wants to reconnect with and when an opportunity presents itself where they all get stuck in a house together while a typhoon restricts them from leaving, he wants to make it right.
Not much can be said about the greatness of Hirokazu Kore-eda. A modern master in filmmaking and adored worldwide for being able to tell magnificent stories about families and the dynamics that exist within them. Each one of his attempts contains so much warmth to them because the characters feel developed and build a connection with the audience. After the Storm does not differ because the audience finds themselves stuck between rooting for the protagonist but also realizing that he has not reached the proper maturity to live the life he claims to be ready for. Much of that ties into his career pursuits and what he deems to be below him. This idea of reaching for more in life caused his career to falter and also not give the proper attention to the family he desperately seeks to reconnect with during this story.
Ryota wants to get back together with his ex-wife, Kyoko (Yōko Maki) as he suspects that she might be getting involved with another man. When trying to rekindle that love with her and build a connection with their son, she points out that she still awaits the child support payments he owes her. That perfectly encapsulates the character of Ryota, who wants to have it all but bare none of the responsibility that comes with it. He wants to be a family man and repair the harm he caused but shows the simple hesitation to begin that path because it appears to be too difficult. This push and pull allows him to reach the realization that he does in the end. As much as he wants everything to go his way, unless he gets with it and accepts responsibility, it will not go his way. All of this brilliantly comes together by the storm referenced in the title.
The storm provides him with that opportunity for change. Ryota visits his mother and Kyoko goes there to drop off their son but once she arrives, the typhoon begins. Ryota’s mother begs Kyoko to not go out in the heavy rain and she decides to stay the night. Ryota sees the storm as his opportunity to rekindle that love and live happily ever after but things do not go the way he had it all mapped out in his head. He developed this idea that things would work out as he intends simply because he suddenly cares, bit accounting for how the people around him have changed since he got his act together. It shows that even an act of God can save the hole he has made for himself with his selfish tendencies.
After the Storm serves an excellent lesson on priorities and what should be important to someone. As much as someone wants to apologize for wrongdoing, the wronged party has absolutely no obligation to accept the apology. Sometimes certain relationships cannot simply be mended because as time passes, life happens and feelings change. Ryota learns that necessary lesson, as he grasps the consequences that come with his past actions and he must move forward with life. This beautiful family dynamic handles it all very well with the legendary director crafting a story that might not rank among his best but still remains incredibly effective in the end.